Dating surfing glamour girl Sally Fitzgibbons no doubt helps, but Kangaroos forward Trent Merrin reckons he is no longer at sea with his “demons”.
Merrin’s off-field form does not appear to need any more work after becoming the other half of one of Australian sport’s power couples.
But Merrin admitted that was hardly the case not so long ago ahead of his Test debut in Friday night’s trans-Tasman clash in Brisbane.
Being cut from NSW’s 2011 Origin III squad was gut-wrenching enough.
When Blues coach Ricky Stuart did it again in the corresponding match the following year, Merrin reached rock bottom.
“They were most definitely the biggest test of myself and my career so far,” Merrin said.
“Battling the demons in my head, not making it, getting cut or due to injury (have been challenges).
“To overcome those sorts of things instead of just walking away and letting it get on top of me.
“Building myself back up and getting that confidence and changing a few things that I felt I needed to change in my game and outside of my game as well.
“If you let things get on top of you they can dead set do a real big job on you.
“It’s been a great learning curve for myself personally.”
Merrin dug deep to not only break back into the Blues team but play every Origin since his 2012 demotion.
Breaking Queensland’s eight series run and raising the Origin trophy last year was a hard act to follow – but Merrin reckons his first Test jumper may have that beat.
“It’s been a long time coming. I know how hard I have worked and what I have sacrificed to get here,” he said.
“It’s taught me a lot, to pick myself back up and do better.”
That new-found edge helped Merrin find another gear at the Dragons amid the circus that swirled around his lucrative 2016 deal with Penrith announced in March.
He has averaged 175m and 34 tackles per game to help the Dragons share the NRL ladder lead after eight rounds.
“I think the best thing about myself is that I knew what I needed to do,” Merrin said.
Having someone to lean on also helps – especially if it is Fitzgibbons.
“My parents and my partner know how hard I’ve worked and the setbacks that you overcome to get in this position,” he said.
“Now it’s paid off.”